I am very proud that today we are hosting the launch of the QAA and HEA guidance for higher education providers on Education for Sustainable Development.
Over the last 20 years UWE Bristol has developed policy, strategy and plans to address its environmental and sustainability impacts. We have of course covered the management of conventional impacts across our campuses – for example in relation to energy, waste and water etc… But clearly our biggest sustainability impact arises from the actions of our students, staff and graduates.
As higher education providers we have a very important role in nurturing the leaders and citizens who will go on to shape the world around us. Our Strategy 2020 picks up this theme very clearly as we are working to ensure our ‘graduates are ready and able to realise their full potential, make a positive contribution to society and their chosen field of employment or further study, and play their full part in the development of a sustainable global society and knowledge economy.’
That is why we have really worked to embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) throughout the University. This is about the contribution that we can make to this agenda through our learning and teaching.
A typical graduate has about 50 to 60 years of life expectancy post-graduation. The skills, knowledge and attributes that they develop at University will impact positively or negatively across their whole lifetime.
A positive impact is much more likely if we can help our students to develop skills, knowledge, attributes and values, through their programmes of study, that really help them work and live in a way that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing – both in the present and for future generations. That is what ESD is about at UWE Bristol and we are committed to providing opportunities for all our students to engage.
At our last review, 90% of our UK domiciled students engaged with the subject of sustainable development within the context of their discipline. In every Department of the University there are modules or programmes exposing students to some, or the entire context of, sustainable development.
Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in 2015 will also provide further opportunities for our students to put sustainability into practice.
It is not easy but we are on the journey and we are committed to pushing forward, thanks to the leadership of Professor Jim Longhurst and the work of the team and colleagues across the University.
Through ESD and our other university activities, we are shaping future generations and the impact they will go on to have on environmental, social and economic wellbeing across the globe.